UConn and the ACC: The One That Got Away

Posted by Chris Kehoe on April 4th, 2014

When the most recent jumble of conference realignment was underway, the ACC squarely targeted the Big East for its newest conquests. Commissioner John Swofford wanted to add programs that were strong in the revenue sports of football and basketball, holding distinctive geographic locations that would open up the conference to new fans and marketing possibilities. The ACC won out in a big way, snagging prominent athletic programs at Syracuse, Louisville, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh from the old Big East. While these programs are have had varying degrees of success in the sport that drives realignment, Notre Dame is the only football name brand (and the Irish retained their football independence). So while the current athletic landscape is shaped by the financial juggernaut that is college football, the ACC locked up some of the country’s most elite basketball programs.

UConn has a rising star in Head Coach Kevin Ollie (credit: CT Post)

UConn has a rising star in Head Coach Kevin Ollie (credit: CT Post)

So while the ACC may have sought greater football legitimacy as its primary goal, the league also landed two massively successful basketball programs in Syracuse and Louisville. As a result, the ACC may very well have positioned itself as the basketball conference of the future, made up of most if not all of the best programs up and down the East Coast. That is, with one notable exception. As the league plundered the Big East, it may have made a drastic mistake from a basketball perspective. The ACC left behind a basketball powerhouse in its own right, Connecticut, a school that all but pleaded for entry into the ACC and a Final Four participant in a season when no conference team made it past the Sweet Sixteen. Recall the silly preseason talk about how the ACC was supposed to be ‘the best ever’, and it leaves you wondering if the exclusion of a program like UConn was the right move. The basketball program based in Storrs has had continued and sustained excellence in the sport over a long period of time, winning the national title three times since 1999 (as well as 2004 and 2011), and putting 13 players into the NBA as lottery picks since 1994. Few programs can match that record.

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.01.11 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 1st, 2011

  1. We start in Los Angeles, where Baxter Holmes takes a look at Shabazz Muhammad’s unofficial visit to USC over the weekend. Muhammad attended the Stanford-USC football game Saturday night and also went to Sunday’s “Salute to Troy” basketball luncheon at the Galen Center. The article also features many quotes from Muhammad’s dad, Ron Holmes, who played wing for the Trojans from 1981-85. “He really enjoyed himself,” said Holmes, but also added, “Sometimes he’ll like one school more than another, sometimes that changes constantly.” This does sound like wishful thinking on the parts of USC and Holmes, but it certainly isn’t a bad thing for the Trojans. If SC were to land Muhammad, the Trojans would be stacked in 2012. Both Maurice Jones and Jio Fontan would return at the guard position and center Dewayne Dedmon is back as well. Add Muhammad to that mix and you have a team that could easily compete for the Pac-12 title. For additional reading, make sure to stay tuned as Drew Murawa will highlight Muhammad’s status with Pac-12 schools later today.
  2. It seems as if every site/blogger on the web has college basketball previews going up right now, and to be honest, the Pac-12 ones just aren’t very good. However, Fox News’ (who knew?) look at the Pac-12 is surprisingly thorough and is a must read if you are looking for a quick capsule on any Pac-12 team. They have California winning the Pac-12 regular season championship, but they are picking Washington to win the conference tournament. With Washington’s depth they are a good pick to win the Pac-12 Tourney, but I doubt they finish fourth in the regular season as they are predicting.
  3. While Muhammad is waiting until the spring to announce his decision, Bishop Gorman (NV) teammate Rosco Allen decided to end the suspense regarding his commitment. Allen announced that he was going to Stanford and intends to sign on Nov. 9. The Cardinal beat out UNLV and North Carolina for the 6’9″ forward who is also great in the classroom. Allen will most likely back up current Stanford forwards Anthony Brown and Dwight Powell next year.
  4. In more commitment news, St. Mark’s (MA) center Kaleb Tarczewski verbally committed to Arizona over Kansas yesterday. Many people thought that Tarczewski would be a lock to go to KU, but Sean Miller and the Arizona staff kept after him. “I had great programs and great coaches recruiting me.” “It just felt right at Arizona,” Tarczewski said. I’m guessing weather played a factor as well. Would you rather go to Lawrence or Tucson after living in Massachusetts all your life? The only current center that will be on Arizona’s roster next season is junior Kyryl Natyazhko, so Tarczewski will be battling him for the starting spot next fall.
  5. If you’d like to see a list of all Pac-12 commitments so far, Percy Allen has one put together. Allen also ranks each team, has a small breakdown of their class so far, and recaps a crazy recruiting week in the Pac-12. He has Arizona ranked #1 in the conference right now after the Wildcats have pulled in three ESPN five stars, including Findlay Prep (NV) star Brandon Ashley. Says Allen, This class is loaded with three players in the top 10 on ESPN’s list. Coach Sean Miller is rebuilding a dynasty in the desert.”
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Pac-12 Media Day Recap: Part One

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 31st, 2011

The Pac-12 Basketball Media Day took place Friday in Los Angeles. Here is part one of our coverage, where we will take a look at the top three quotes from each of the six northern schools.  Tomorrow morning we’ll cover the southern schools.

Washington (full transcript available here)

  • Coach Lorenzo Romar on the importance of playing schools like Duke and Marquette in nonconference play: “I think as we’ve seen over the last several years, our conference usually is evaluated based on our nonconference schedule in terms of a national perception. Sometimes an opinion is formed in the preseason, and then sometimes the nation doesn’t look back to see what teams are doing. So, again, we’re faced with it. There are a number of teams in our conference that have high profile, non-conference games. I think it’s important that we do well in those games.”
  • Coach Romar on Seattle Pacific-Arizona: “My thoughts are that in an exhibition game, it’s a time to experiment. It’s a time to teach. It’s a time to learn. I am very fortunate. We’re fortunate that we didn’t have an exhibition game last night, trust me. The way I see it from a coach’s perspective is I’m sure they got a lot out of it. Seattle Pacific went in there and obviously gave them a great ballgame and challenged them. That they have some new players as well. Some young players. That gives them a perspective of what level you have to be at at this level. So a game like that can do a lot more good for a team than if they were to play someone and blow them out by 50 or 60 and give them a false sense of who they were.”

UW Fans Are Hyped About the Arrival of Local Hero Wroten

  • Coach Romar on freshman point guard Tony Wroten, Jr.: “Tony Wroten, I can almost guarantee you, not a hundred percent, but I can — I’m willing to say that people will be surprised at Tony Wroten, and I’m not talking about the level of player he is, he’s an exceptional basketball player. But when they see how he will get on the floor and dive for a ball. How they can see that playing defense and things like that are really some of the intangible things that are important to him. When people see that, I think people have a different impression of what they thought he was going to be like. I think he’s been labeled somewhat of a show boat, show man, and that’s all he cares about. I think if you’re a Husky fan, people will be pleasantly surprised but that’s not totally him. He has fun. He enjoys the game. But at the same time, he’s a really tough competitor. So he’s done well.

Thoughts: Wroten, Jr., sounds even better than originally advertised, which is still pretty great. Definitely has the potential to be the next Isaiah Thomas or Brandon Roy for the Huskies.

Washington State (full transcript available here)

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Paging Scott Drew: Meech Goodson Just Hit Campus

Posted by rtmsf on May 31st, 2011

We’ve known for some time that former Gonzaga guard Demetri “Meech” Goodson was giving up basketball to return to his home state of Texas and pursue college football with the remainder of his amateur eligibility.  We learned today through The Spokesman-Review (via Fox 26 Houston) that Goodson will end up at Baylor for his two seasons on the gridiron.  Presuming that Bears head coach Art Briles is aware that he’s adding a tremendously athletic 6’0, 175-pounder with a ridiculous first step and quick hands to his roster, Goodson told the television station that he will be enrolled in the Waco school and ready to work out very soon.

Goodson Could Provide Spot Defensive and Leadership Minutes at Baylor

Just get my transcript from Gonzaga shipped over to Baylor.  I shipped it out (Saturday). Once they get all that stuff done, I’ll be there. It’s a great feeling.  I’m excited. A bit nervous because I haven’t played (football) in a while. Once I go and start hitting the weights and learning their system, I’ll be all right.  I could probably go overseas and make some money.  But professionally, football will be a better move for me just because of the number of basketball players who make it and the number of football players. That was basically why I did it.

Considering that there isn’t much of an NBA market for undersized point guards who average five points per game and have trouble shooting the ball from distance (career 20% three-point shooter), this is a fairly enlightened move on Goodson’s part.  With the transfer, not only does he give himself two seasons to fully re-adjust to playing football — the last time he suited up on the field was in 2006, during his sophomore year in high school — but he also joins a Baylor team coming off a 7-6 (4-4 Big 12) season where the depth chart shows only one returning starter at his favored cornerback position.  An opportunity to prove himself against the light-em-up offenses of the conference would enable Goodson a pretty good opportunity to eventually become a future NFL defensive back.  Incidentally, his older brother, Mike Goodson, a considerably bulkier player at 210 lbs., is currently a running back with the Carolina Panthers (see video of a TD last season here).

The intriguing part to this transfer saga between sports is what, if any, effect this might have on Baylor basketball.  The Bears are already settled in the point guard slot for the 2011-12 season with incumbent junior AJ Walton manning the spot and JuCo transfer Pierre Jackson coming in to provide relief.  But what if something goes wrong with one of those two players prior to the 2012-13 season (which, coincidentally, is when Goodson would be eligible to play his fourth and final season of hoops)?  Or, what if Goodson’s foray into football doesn’t go as well as planned (injury, rustiness, etc.)?  Is Scott Drew really going to sit idly by and not accidentally “bump” into Goodson at the athletic training facilities or cafeteria when there’s a proven winner on the hardwood walking around his campus?  Would he not want a seasoned veteran like Goodson in his locker room to provide backup minutes as an athletic defender to close out games? 

Drew has made major waves in his ability to recruit nationally at a school with virtually no basketball tradition, earning commitments from top players such as Perry Jones, III (Duncanville, TX), Deuce Bello (Greensboro, NC), and Quincy Miller (Winston-Salem, NC) in recent years.  Are we really supposed to believe that he doesn’t have the power of persuasion needed to entice Goodson for a final run in the gym?  Only time will tell, but it wouldn’t shock us in the least if we see Goodson suiting up for the Bears in both the primary fall and winter sports two seasons from now. 

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Urban Meyer = Marketing Genius

Posted by nvr1983 on April 13th, 2008

Here at Rush The Court we have often been critical of Billy Donovan (surprising since he has won 2 of the last 3 national championships) and I have to admit I am programmed to hate all things UF (no, I’m not a Seminoles fan), but I have to tip my hat to Gators head football coach Urban Meyer for his latest gem. Meyer, who has his own national title along with several highly rated recruiting classes that are going to be frightening over the next few years, recently held a contest where he offered a full-ride to any non-football player on the UF campus who could beat Louis Murphy, Chris Rainey and Deonte Thompson in a 40-yard dash. While nobody was able to beat the football players and win a scholarship, it generated a lot of excitement on and off campus for the Gators football program. Jemele Hill has a pretty good piece on the event and the surrounding hype.

It seems kind of like the circus event that would be featured on a tv show or a movie, but I kind of like it. It generated a good deal of hype getting out Meyer’s message about having “the fastest team in America” out to anybody who was watching including a bunch of 5-star recruits, and it energized a bunch of former HS athletes on campus while having very little expected cost. I mean seriously if you can beat a 4.27 guy over 40 yards, you can get a full-ride somewhere even if you don’t have any hands.

Meyer has been reading some marketing books too. . .

I haven’t heard of many other school pulling this kind of stuff although I could see it happening. If any of you have heard of it, let us know. I’m also wondering what the basketball equivalent would be. It would need to be something that was objective (no dunk contests) and wasn’t really a risk in terms of having to fork over a full-ride (no half court shot contests), but still realistic enough that people would convince themselves that they had a chance to get the excitement level high enough.

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